Review: Love Next Door (Helena Hunting)

Love Next Door
Series: Lakeside, #1

Author: Helena Hunting
Narrators: Andi Arndt, Teddy Hamilton

Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting comes an evocative small-town romance about family loyalty, finding oneself, and falling in love.

When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business.

Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door. Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory.

Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back-and-forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t just where the heart is—it’s where things get complicated. 


Fans of Helena Hunting’s The Good Luck Charm and Kiss My Cupcake are sure to enjoy Love Next Door. It’s a sweet contemporary filled with lots of emotional moments and even some mystery. It also had a ton of small town goodness. I loved the lake setting with one side for the town and one side for the rich vacationers. I also loved what that small town did for the story and romance between Dillion and Van.

Dillion was a woman who had run from her small town past to the big city of Chicago. Coming home to help out her family’s business wasn’t in her plans, and she worried she had failed. Being home reconnected her with her roots and there was great character growth that way.

Van had some demons of his own he was fighting when it came to family. He grew up as someone who probably could have been on the other side of the lake with all those rich kids, but he spent his summers with his grandmother next door to Dillion. They didn’t really know each other, so meeting in adult life was entertaining in more ways than one. I loved how they met and how things went from there.

Dillion and Van’s relationship was adorable. There were a lot of fun, sweet moments. There was also some drama, but not a ton related to their relationship. The drama seemed to be all around them. It was pretty interesting. I wasn’t expecting some, like what was up with Dillion’s brother Billy. I could see the drama coming from Van’s family, so that was kind of expected. Thinking back on the drama, it kind of distracted from Dillion and Van’s relationship, but I guess that’s okay because it ended up bringing them closer together. Oh! And I almost forgot about Tucker… His character seemed kind of like an unnecessary distraction. I expected more a confrontation or something related to him.

I listened to the audio version of this book on KU, and I’m so glad I did. The narration was perfect. I always enjoy Andi Arndt and Teddy Hamilton narrating books, and they definitely rocked this one.

I’m excited for the next book in this series, Love on the Lake. I’m hoping it’s Aaron and Teagan’s story. I also wouldn’t mind Billy getting his own book.

Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman

Publication Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants-—the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too-smart-for-their-own-good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming—until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past—and a voice that won’t be silenced… 


Last year, I read The Sun Down Motel. I enjoyed that book so much that I knew I wanted to read some of Simone St. James’s back list. I decided to start with the audiobook of The Broken Girls. I was intrigued by the blurb and loved the cover. By the time I finally got it from my library, I had completely forgotten what it was about. That made this listen very interesting because I had no idea where the story was going or how the two timelines were connected at first.

The Broken Girls didn’t quite captivate me the way The Sun Down Motel did. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy The Broken Girls. I did. Rebecca Lowman brought the story to life in a great way. I love her voice and narration. I enjoyed Fiona’s POV and the mysteries she was trying to solve. Her POV was especially interesting considering her thoughts and opinions were skewed by the untimely murder of her sister. I loved the ghost aspect of the story and was curious as to why Mary was haunting the halls of Idlewild. Plus, there were some great twists.

All of these good things being said, there were still a couple things that prevented this book from wowing me. First, the two timelines didn’t mesh as well as I wanted them to. I think part of the issue was the past timeline. It was in four different POVs and it took me a while to keep the girls and their stories straight. It was too distracting. I get why the four were used, but I also think it might have been better to just have it be Katie’s POV. Second, I loved the ghost aspect, but it also ended up feeling a little anticlimactic at the end. I wanted there to be a better tie in or timeline all of its own.

Despite those two things, I did end up enjoying listening to this book. It moved at a good pace and kept my curiosity going. It was a good mystery.

Review: A Wicked and Beautiful Garden (Katie McGarry)

A Wicked and Beautiful Garden
Series: Witches of the Island, #1
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: May 5, 2021
Publisher: Katie McGarry LLC

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-eight year-old Cassie Strega can’t escape fate.

All she wants is to live a normal, quiet life delivering the babies in her small town. But when she discovers she comes from a lineage of witches, her life becomes extraordinary—in the gravely dangerous type of way.

Then, she’s reunited with her first love.

Orion, the sultry Fae warrior who broke her heart years before, is searching for a baby. Not just any baby, but the queen of the Fae who will one day lead them in their final battle against the demons determined to rule the world. The same baby who has been calling to Cassie for help in her dreams.

Fighting the intense attraction of their former blood bond, Cassie and Orion work together to find the child. But when the heartbreak that nearly destroyed Cassie nine years before looms once more, she’ll have to decide whether getting involved in the supernatural war is worth losing everything, including her life.


I don’t normally reach for fantasies, but when I heard Katie McGarry was releasing one I knew I had to read it. I’ve loved everything she has written and I expected no different from A Wicked and Beautiful Garden. I have to admit that it took me a bit to get into this tale and that at times the fantasy stuff overwhelmed me. There’s some info dumping and world building that needs to occur and that stuff always slows me down. Once I got more into that stuff, I was locked into finding out about Cassie, Orion, and the baby. I really liked Cassie. Orion wasn’t my favorite at the start, but he redeemed himself for the most part. I’m still not sure about their relationship, but they had some great chemistry. I guess I just need more time to believe in their romance. As for the baby…Well, that’s the big mystery. I liked how the mystery of the baby was involved in Cassie finding out more about herself. I am curious to find out where the story goes from here.

Review: Burn (Ginger Scott)

Burn
Series: Fuel, #3
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: July 30, 2021
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC provided by WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

**Burn is the third and final book in the brother’s-best-friend, friends-to-lovers Fuel Series by Ginger Scott. This second-chance romance completes this angsty, steamy, new adult trilogy.

Dustin Bridge’s world is about speed. About the edge. His life has been carved by cutting corners and making moves, following impulsive decisions while weighing the facts at hand.

On the track, that has never steered him wrong.

In life, though? That’s another story.

On the cusp of greatness, the world’s up-and-coming racing star seems to be living the perfect story. A hero to his hometown. A partner to his best friend. A man poised to take the throne, to become the greatest, and to reap the rewards and attention that come along with it.

He’s been branded the track’s most eligible bachelor. And rarely does he cross a finish line without a dozen screaming, adoring women brandishing his name on glitter-covered T-shirts across their chests, just hoping he’ll break his own rules and take one of them to bed.

But he won’t. As loose as Dustin may be on the road, he’s become disciplined in life. He let love in completely—once. For one person. Hannah Judge. And she wrecked him.

And now, she’s back. 


Ginger Scott didn’t pump the brakes once with in this series. Burn was just as angsty and adrenaline filled as the first two books. Hannah and Dustin were in an awkward place with each other at the start of this book based on the ending of the last one. I wasn’t exactly happy with Hannah at the beginning, even though I understood her reasoning. Dustin also felt a little weaker as a character at a pivotal moment than I wanted him to be, but I guess I won’t complain too much about that because it made things easier for me in an emotional way. Dustin and Hannah ended up exactly where they needed to be. I loved how Burn wrapped up everything and brought everyone together. It was a great ending to a fantastic romance series.

Series Review: Follow Me (Helen Hardt)

Hi! I’m back from Hiatus with a review for Helen Hardt’s entire Follow Me series for you. I don’t read erotica very often, but I decided to give this series a chance when I was approached to read it. I’m glad I took that chance because I ended up enjoying this series for several reasons.

Follow Me Darkly
Series: Follow Me, #1
Author: Helen Hardt
Publication Date: September 20, 2020
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Erotica, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts: 

Follow Me Darkly wasn’t a book that was on my radar until it was recommended to me. It was described to me as being similar to Fifty Shades of Grey. I will admit I paused before deciding to read it because I wasn’t sure I needed to read something similar to that book. Ultimately, I decided to read it because I was curious. It started out a little wobbly for me, but quickly morphed into an addictive read. I liked the characters, especially Skye. She was intelligent and went for what she wanted. She wasn’t quick to give in or back down. Braden was a little more of a mystery since he didn’t have a POV. He has some big secret he’s keeping that Skye (and I) wants to know. I would say Helen Hardt is a talented writer. She had me immediately wanting to pick up the next book in this series. Worth the read if you’re looking for something sexy with an air of mystery — or just a book similar to Fifty Shades.

Follow Me Under
Series: Follow Me, #2
Author: Helen Hardt
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Erotica, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher and this is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts: 

I flew through Follow Me Under. It was even more addictive than the first book. I loved seeing Skye and Braden’s relationship progressing. I also liked Skye’s character development in relation to the changes in her life. I was not ready for this book to be over because now I have to wait for the next one!!! At least it’s not that long of a wait!

Follow Me Always
Series: Follow Me, #3
Author: Helen Hardt
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Erotica, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts: 

Helen Hardt finished this series in the best of ways. I loved where she took Skye’s character. Skye had a lot to learn about herself and I enjoyed all of the revelations. I also loved how her discoveries helped her come to terms with her relationship with Braden. I ended up having more respect for both Skye and Braden as characters. I truly believed in their love after this book. I was also pleased with how all of the little storylines were wrapped up. Everything came full circle in the best of ways. Fans of this series will love this ending.

Final thoughts: I truly enjoyed this series! It was highly addictive and a fast-paced read. I would recommend it. I’m so glad I took a chance on it! Also, there is a fourth book in the series called Darkly in Braden’s POV that I have yet to read. I will most likely read it at some point.

Review: Exposed (Kristen Callihan)

Exposed
Series: VIP, #4

Author: Kristen Callihan
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

Brenna

There are some people in life who know exactly how to push your buttons. For me, it’s Rye Peterson. We can’t spend more than ten minutes together before we’re at each other’s throats, which makes working together that much harder. Rye is the bassist for Kill John, the biggest rock band in the world, and I am his publicist. It doesn’t help that the man is gorgeous, funny, talented, and…never takes anything seriously. Avoidance is key.

But everything changes when he overhears something he shouldn’t: a confession made in a moment of weakness. Now the man I’ve tried so hard to ignore is offering me the greatest temptation of all—him.

Rye

Brenna James is the one. The one I can’t have. The one I can’t get out of my mind. Believe me, I’ve tried; the woman loathes me. I managed well enough—until I heard her say she’s as lonely as I am. That she needed to be touched, held, satisfied. And I could no longer deny the truth: I wanted to be the one to give her what she craved.

I convinced her that it would just be sex, mutual satisfaction with nothing deeper. But the moment I have her, she becomes my world. I’ve never given her a good reason to trust me before. Now, I’ve got to show Brenna that we’re so much better together than we ever were apart.

Things are going to get messy. But getting messy with Brenna is what I do best.


I loved this book. Like really loved it. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about Exposed. It was everything I’ve come to expect from Kristan Callihan. The writing and story were fantastic. Rye and Brenna had this enemies thing going on that has steadily built over the last three books and I finally got to find out what was going on in their heads. Their being enemies turned to lovers in the best, unexpected way. Rye and Brenna had a fierce chemistry between them, but also a deep emotional connection. I loved the way they understood each other and the sweet and supportive moments they shared. I was surprised by how vulnerable both characters were (but especially Rye). The fact that the whole Kill John family was there in the background supporting and loving them was icing on the cake. I couldn’t have been happier with this romance. I wouldn’t have minded if it went on for another 100 pages. The only thing I need now is a book for Whip. Please tell me we’re getting a book for him.

Exposed (VIP #4) by Kristen Callihan is now live!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/34QUjwl
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3wg2Sg1
Nook: https://bit.ly/3iC3atM
Kobo:  https://bit.ly/3gurUkP
Website: www.kristencallihan.com

   Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fOg0Sx

Meet Kristen

Kristen Callihan is an author because there’s nothing else she’d rather be. She has written New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestsellers. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence and was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, Best Book of Spring 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Best Romance Book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she’s not writing, she’s reading.

Connect with Kristen

Website: www.kristencallihan.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kristen_callihan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kristen_callihan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kris10Callihan
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kristen-callihan

 

Review: Broken Hearts (Rebecca Jenshak)

Broken Hearts
Series: Campus Nights, #3

Author: Rebecca Jenshak
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
Genre: Contemporary, Sports Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

She’s a figure skater. He’s a hockey player. Things are about to heat up on the ice.

 

Rhett Rauthruss is single for the first time in six years. He’s fresh off a long-term, long-distance relationship and ready to make the most of what’s left of college.
Party with his boys, get to the Frozen Four with his team, and maybe play the field for a change.

Sienna Hale knows a thing or two about heartbreak. She’s a college athlete about to skate for the last time, and nothing is going to throw her off course. Not her worries about finding a job after college, not the whispers of last year’s accident on the ice, and not the cute hockey player who keeps asking her out.

 

They think they want different things, but when it heats up between them, there’s no denying they have something in common–even if it’s just for a night. 


If you’re a fan of the Campus Nights series you know just how excited I was to get Rhett Rauthruss’ story. He’s been a prominent side character in this series from the beginning and one of my favorite characters in it. Rhett’s always been a curiosity because of his dedication to his long distance girlfriend, Carrie. In the last book they broke up, and I wanted to know what truly happened between them through Rhett’s eyes. Those loose ends were tied up in Broken Hearts, but I honestly didn’t care about what happened between him and Carrie anymore once I met Sienna.

From their first bumpy meeting, I knew Rhett and Sienna’s romance was going to be fun. Rhett and Sienna didn’t exactly get off to the best start, and that made the time they took to get to know each other very entertaining. It took Sienna a little longer to figure out what I already knew: Rhett was a nice, stand up guy. Sienna was just as nice of a person as Rhett. They had a lot in common being athletes in their senior year of college. I loved how Sienna being a figure skater contrasted with Rhett being a hockey player. Their relationship felt natural with their chemistry and emotional connection. I loved how their story played out on and off the ice.

Something that made this book feel even more special was seeing some of my favorite characters from the previous books. Heath, Adam, and Mav all supported Rhett and Sienna through this book. Don’t worry — their ladies make appearances, too. It’s always so much fun to be with this gang again.

I feel like I have a lot more to say about Broken Hearts, but can’t because I don’t want to spoil it. There are some great emotional ups and downs for both Rhett and Sienna in this book. Fans of this series are going to love everything Rebecca Jenshak throws at them.

Broken Hearts by Rebecca Jenshak is now live!

Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gi7wDE
Apple Books: https://apple.co/31YTMHj
Nook: https://bit.ly/2PrYQBk
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3fFqdCs

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3yDpU27

Meet Rebecca

Rebecca is a new adult romance author, caffeine-addict, and lover of all sports. She’s a Midwest girl at heart, but currently resides in Arizona.

Connect with Rebecca

Website: https://www.rebeccajenshak.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16681160.Rebecca_Jenshak
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Jenshak/e/B074F258NP/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccajenshak
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1523746940998401
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebeccajenshak
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rebeccajenshak
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-jenshak

Review: The Bold and the Bullheaded (Willow Aster & Laura Pavlov)

The Bold and the Bullheaded
Series: The G.D. Taylors,#2
Authors: Willow Aster, Laura Pavlov
Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis: 

𝐴 𝑏𝑢𝑙𝑙ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑙𝑝ℎ𝑎. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑎𝑛𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑦 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒. 𝐼 𝑐𝑎𝑛’𝑡 𝑒𝑠𝑐𝑎𝑝𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑛𝑜 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑜𝑤 ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝐼 𝑡𝑟𝑦.

Emma…
I don’t do feelings.
Especially not with an arrogant, broody Taylor brother.
But one moment of weakness on an elevator wrecks me.
I curse his name.
I curse said elevator.
Yet I find myself wanting to be trapped in a small space with Spence Taylor again.
And don’t even get me started on his day job.
The man can do just about anything with those hands.
Those big hands, and er—big feet.
I digress.

Spence…
Emma Kingsley is the most infuriating woman I’ve ever known.
Stubborn, arrogant, and sexy as sin.
She drives me crazy.
And she’s determined to hate me.
The funny thing is—I can’t get enough.
But the woman has more walls up than the royal palace.
Lucky for her, I make a living tearing down walls.
And I just found my favorite project.
Time to renovate, Queenie.


I gave the first book in this series, Wanted Wed or Alive, 5 stars for being a rom-com that was cute, funny, and sweet. If I could, I would give The Bold and the Bullheaded even more stars because not only was it all those things, but it had a super fun enemies to lovers aspect going on. Emma was holding onto that enemies thing with Spence far longer than most characters do in that relationship trope. It gave this book an edge and emotional pull I was expecting but loved.

Emma was a strong female character. She had worked hard to become the lawyer and person she was. Her past held her back in ways, but Spence knew how to break through that and push her out of her comfort zone. Spence is the oldest of the Taylor siblings and has the personality to back that. I loved seeing how Emma softened his edges. They were great together as a couple and their chemistry was fire.

My most favorite thing about this book was that it made me laugh so G.D. hard. There were things that popped back up from the first book and then new things that added to the hilarity. I would love to quote some stuff for you, but I don’t want to give anything away. All I can say is that if you enjoy rom-coms, I would highly recommend this book and series. It’s a new favorite of mine. I’m so glad there are 3 more siblings Aster and Pavlov can write books for because I want them now!

Series Review: The Walshes (Kate Canterbary)

The past couple of years I have been trying to read more books that have been hidden in the depths of my Kindle. One of those books was Kate Canterbary’s The Cornerstone (The Walshes, #4). Reading that book prompted me to go back and read the entire series from beginning to end. Since I have enjoyed the series, I wanted to share it with you. Here are some brief thoughts on each book in the series.

This is going to be a little out of order because I feel like starting with the book I read first and going from there.

The Cornerstone, book 4 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is still my favorite book in the series. Shannon was this brilliant, hardworking woman who was known as being a witch with a capital “B”. She ran the show and Navy SEAL Will gave her a run for her money. He didn’t back down and knew when to take over. They kind of hated each other at the start, but their sizzling chemistry won out. There was a secret romance that involved a lot of texting. I loved every moment of their relationship. I also loved every character I met in Shannon and Will’s families. I couldn’t wait to read more! I know at some point I’ll reread this book. Also, I kind of have to mention that I love that I met Shannon first instead of having preconceived notions of her.

Underneath It All, book 1 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Underneath It All is my second favorite in this series — and that’s a very close second. Lauren and Matt were adorable, but in a steamy kind of way. Lauren meets Matt when she hires him to help her find a building for her new school. Sparks flew from the minute they met and ignited a full on fire. Their chemistry was amazing, and I was surprised by the sweetness between the two of them. This was a great start to a series…if you want to start from the beginning.

The Space Between, book 2 – ★ ★ ★ ★
The Space Between was a little slower start for me. There was more build up to Patrick and Andi’s relationship than the previous two books I had read, and I felt like it took me longer to warm up to them because of that. They started off in kind of an office mentor/mentee relationship that developed into a romance. I ended up loving their relationship and chemistry.

Necessary Restorations, book 3 – ★ ★ ★ ½
Necessary Restorations was good, but it had a some moments that weren’t my favorite. Sam’s manwhore ways were a little problematic. There wasn’t cheating, but some will put something that happens in the cheating category and it wasn’t especially fun to read. I did love Sam and Tiel together. I read this series out of order and started with book 4, so it was nice to finally understand some stuff that was going on. I also liked getting to know Sam and his inner workings. He had some major issues that I got wind of in The Cornerstone, so it was good to find out what was going on. I also didn’t realize there was another whole book for this couple, so I’m curious to see where it goes since these two still had some demons to deal with.

Restored, book 5- ★ ★ ★ ★
Restored was basically a necessary addition to Necessary Restoration after The Cornerstone. It brought Sam and Tiel back and gave some much needed answers to what was going down with them outside of Shannon’s perspective. I liked seeing where their relationship went and it upped the sweetness factor between Sam and Tiel for me.

The Spire, book 6 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
As I was binging The Walshes series, Erin’s story was one I was waiting for  the most. I blame that on reading Shannon’s book first and wanting to know what the deal was with 1) Shannon and Erin and 2) Erin and Nick. This book didn’t let me down. I am finally happy to know all about Erin, her history with Shannon, and her relationship with Nick. Erin and Nick together were adorable! I loved the fire between them and the emotional connection. I love how Nick saw beyond what Erin’s siblings saw. I especially loved the emails and all other communication between Erin and Nick. I was only happy their situation went on the way it did because of how much I loved that piece of it. The Spire made me very happy.

Preservation, book 7 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I was a little nervous going into this book — especially after that prologue. I always understood why Riley would have a crush on Lauren, but I hated it. HATED IT. I was worried what he would do and what it would mean. I’m so happy Alex was thrown in Riley’s path before he did anything too stupid. I loved Alex and Riley together. I loved their story and the text exchanges that were included. I especially loved how the whole story wrapped up. It was perfect.

Thresholds, book 8 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
All the Walshes in one place? Yes, please! It was so fun to get to catch up with my favorite characters during the holidays. Everyone was going through something different, but I loved the ways their lives still connected. I was going to say that I was especially happy for a certain couple’s updates, but I really loved all of them equally. Oh, and but I have to say there’s one new doctor’s POV that had me laughing out loud. I wanted his hijinks to continue.

Foundations, book 9 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I adored this novella about Matt and Lauren. They have a new addition to their family and it shakes things up a bit. I loved the way they got things back on track. It was so Matt and Lauren. It was also very real and easy to relate to if you have had children. Now, can I get a solo novella for Will and Shannon, please? (Also, I wish this book would have had a white cover.)

Final thoughts:
The Walshes was a great series about a family who has been through some rough stuff together growing up, but has moved on in life as each of them find love. I adored the Walsh sibling and their partners. The side characters were really great, too. There could be some triggers with parental abuse for some readers, but there isn’t a ton of detail.  I am super excited to read more of Kate Canterbary’s books, especially Wes and Magnolia’s books. Overall, this series was a big winner for me.

Review: What You Left Behind (Jessica Verdi)

What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?


What You Left Behind sat on my Kindle for 6 years (SIX YEARS!!!) before I picked it up. At first, I wasn’t looking for a book that sounded so emotional. Then, it got lost in the depths of my Kindle. It was brought back to mind when two of my friendly bloggers read it this past year. Both of them enjoyed it, and so my interest was renewed. I’m now mad I waited so long to read it.

This book was  addictive, but it was also emotional torture. Ryden is going through so much: grief from losing his girlfriend, being a new single teen father, having to give up so much, and the belief he was responsible for his girlfriend’s death. It was a lot to take in — especially because Ryden wasn’t handling it very well. He has the idea that Meg’s journals and finding his long lost father will help him become the father he should be. I felt for him, but he drove me up the wall. What he really needed was someone to give it to him straight. I know he was trying to avoid just that, but his delusions made me mad and sad.

Meg wasn’t alive in this book, but her presence was felt through her journals and Ryden’s memories. The memories were sweet and made me love Ryden and Meg together, but the reality the journal gave made those memories bittersweet. Some of the revelations made me upset with Meg. I didn’t leave this book with happy feelings about the decisions she made.

There were other characters in this book that helped make this story the great read it was along with Ryden and Meg. Ryden’s mom was an amazing lady. Alan was a great friend. Meg’s younger sister was a great addition. I had some so-so feelings about Joni, but her character served an important role and I actually loved what she said in the end. Two characters I didn’t love were Meg’s parents. There were several reasons, but I wish their had been some sort of arc involving them.

Overall, What You Left Behind was an impactful read. It’s one I’m going to be thinking of for a long time to come. I didn’t always love it, but I feel like it’s a book teenagers should read. The truths Ryden faced about having a baby in high school are very real.